Navigating the Relationship Between Moms and Teenage Boys


Here’s what I realized this morning… As moms of teenage boys, many of us are going through our own hormonal changes at the same time our babies are becoming men. The result is a whole lot of mixed emotions that can result in conflict and a damaged relationship, if left unchecked.

Today, I found myself moody for no apparent reason. I realized that I was setting a negative tone throughout the entire house, resulting in my almost-teenage son feeling that I was mad at him. We had a “blow up” at each other and I quickly realized I had to reset myself, hug him and apologize. I think it helped him to know that sometimes I don’t know why I feel emotions, either. 

As I reflect on the situation and phase we are entering together, a couple of thoughts come to mind.

The journey through adolescence is a transformative phase marked by profound changes, both physical and emotional. At the same time, as women, we are often starting to stare down mid-life and the hormonal changes that come with that. Both people are faced with uncertainty about who they are and how they are feeling inside and out. (This is also true for moms of teenage girls, but I have no experience there.)

The bond between moms and our teenage sons can be one of the most intricate relationships during this time. But these dynamic relationships are often characterized by a rollercoaster of emotions, miscommunications, and differing needs. Amidst the hormonal upheavals that both of us are experiencing, there lies an opportunity to bridge the gap and build a stronger connection. 

The Storm of Hormones: A Shared Experience

It is no secret that teenage boys undergo significant hormonal changes during adolescence, and women during perimenopause and menopause. These changes can lead to unpredictable emotions and mood swings, causing moments of disconnect and frustration. For moms, it might feel like our once-loving child has been replaced by an unfamiliar, moody stranger. Similarly, our teenage sons often struggle to make sense of their own emotions and responses, leading to heightened tensions with us.

During these tumultuous times, open communication is key. Encourage your son to express his feelings and concerns without judgment. Likewise, as moms we should make an effort to be patient, recognizing that the emotional turbulence is a shared experience.

Be sure to share with your son and ask for forgiveness when you let your emotions get the best of you. It sets an example and shows him how he too can overcome this challenging time of emotions. 

The Craving for Love and Respect

If you’ve read the book “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, or its companion book “Love and Respect in the Family,” you know that in general men have a deep need to feel respect, and we as women feel a deep need to be loved. The concept is expanded for the family, but in this case, parents need to feel respected and kids need love. 

As our little boys become men, understanding these deep-rooted needs becomes paramount in our relationship! Our once-little boys who felt complete and whole from our love and nurturing are now testing their boundaries as men and need our respect. You may say respect is earned and that may be true in a work environment. But in our homes, it needs to be freely given to the men and men-to-be in our life, as a sign of our love. 

If we are constantly nagging and correcting, which we think is us loving them and helping them, we are actually telling them we think they are incapable. And that equals feeling unloved. 

When our sons feel disrespected/unloved, they will be unlikely to show us the love and respect we desire, either. As parents, we need to put on our big-girl panties, be adults and go first. Show your son respect and in time I know he will show you love!

Now, let me be clear. It is still our job to guide, direct and teach. Finding the right balance is key but it will be important to find if we want to cement our bond with our sons.

Tips for Strengthening the Relationship

Open and Non-Judgmental Communication: Foster an environment where both parties feel safe to express themselves without fear of criticism. Regular conversations can lead to better understanding and empathy.

Active Listening: Truly hear what your teenage son is saying, acknowledging his feelings and opinions. This demonstrates respect and encourages honest dialogue.

Shared Activities: Find common interests or hobbies to bond over. Engaging in activities together can create positive memories and improve rapport.

Set Boundaries Together: Involve your teenage son in discussions about rules and boundaries. This empowers him to take ownership of his decisions and responsibilities.

Encourage Independence: Support your son’s growing autonomy. Allow him to make age-appropriate choices and learn from his mistakes.

Express Love and Respect: Moms, show your love through actions that resonate with your son’s preferences. That could mean spending quality time, writing heartfelt notes, or simply respecting his space.

Lead by Example: Demonstrate the values of respect, empathy, and effective communication in your own behavior, serving as a positive role model.

Seek Professional Help if Needed: If conflicts persist and the relationship becomes strained, seek the assistance of a family therapist or counselor.

The relationship between moms and our teenage boys is a complex terrain, marked by the simultaneous journey of emotional growth and transformation. By acknowledging and addressing the challenges posed by hormonal changes and differing needs, we can work together to build a stronger, more respectful bond. 

I’m figuring this out as I go. My son is just starting his teenage journey, but I hope you’ll find these points thought-provoking and helpful. I’d love to hear how you are navigating your relationship with your teenage boys!